A heart problem put a British engineer's life at risk for decades—but presented with surgery options, he was "unimpressed." So Tal Golesworthy, now 57, decided to take matters into his own hands, and the successful procedure he came up with has now helped more than 40 others, the BBC reports. Marfan syndrome can cause the aorta to slowly enlarge, putting it in danger of bursting. The traditional surgery sometimes requires metal valves to be placed inside the heart, which in turn requires a lifetime of blood-thinning meds; those can pose a serious risk if the patient falls. "I didn't want to have to live my life in a cotton-wool cocoon," Golesworthy says.
He looked at the issue as if it were a gardening problem: "If the hosepipe is bulging, I must get some insulation tape and wrap it round the outside of the hosepipe to stop it bulging. It's that crude and simple, and we have all done it in our gardens." He got help from a team of experts, who spent three years coming up with a mesh sleeve to wrap around the aorta. That made for simpler surgery that didn't require blood-thinning medication. The procedure was performed in 2004, his aorta still hasn't expanded. Now dozens have received the procedure; the youngest patient was just 16, the Express reports. One patient, however, didn't survive, the BBC notes; clinical trials may be on the horizon. (Another engineer is working on an interesting health issue: Bill Gates wants to come up with a better condom.)